Wait, this ain't the ABC store....

AbjectMaelstroM

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Yup, another guy who got lost and accidentally wandered into a fish store. Well, not quite…. Long ( and I mean like 20 something years long) story short, I finally decided to get into reefing. My wife says I have a real problem with getting very bored very quickly, unless something occupies my time...sounds like this is the thing for me; almost like having and caring for a second family. Anyway, I've wanted to have a saltwater aquarium ever since I first dipped my toes into the ocean. My old man had a 60ft mono-hull sailboat when I was in my teens and we used to take sailing vacations every summer (Bermuda, Brit/US Virgin Islands...I prefer Brit, Bahamas). Since no one sails for free, one of my jobs was to scrape the hull; so I'd throw on my dad's diving gear and get to work....there were so many pretty fish! And that’s where I got bit by the bug….and stung by a sea urchin, but that one was entirely my own dang fault and a story for another time. Fast forward 20+ years, got out of the military, went to college, started a new job, got married and bought a house...all the "adult" things. Few years back, my wife got scuba certified and we've been doing dive vacations every year since then (Cozumel, Turks,Belize, Grand/Little Cayman, Socorro, Malaysia). Well, we figured that a year between vacations is just too long to go without sea-life, so we decided (correction: I decided and she approved) to go ahead with a saltwater aquarium. So....here I am.


Over the last couple of weeks I started doing some research and boy is there a bit of info out there on saltwater aquariums. At this point, a lot of this hobby is still clear as mud, but I'm starting to feel my way through it. Below is a rough idea of where I'm headed and I hope you guys and gals can guide me the rest of the way. My plan is to start getting some things together over the next 6 months and have water going into the tank sometime in 2020....maybe earlier, if I'm lucky.


Tank

One thing I learned in my Hazmat Tech training, dilution is the solution. Right now I'm pricing out a 120g tank through GlassCages, SCA, and hopefully some local boys. If I can get out with spending under $1000, I'll be happy. Looking to get a "blank" tank and drill my own holes.


Overflow

BeanAnimal-style using something like a Stealth Overflow. 1" on all siphons and 3/4" returns


Stand

Got plenty of tools and decent amount of know-how, so I'll be building one myself using plans/ideas provided in a thread over at ReefCentral. Seems to be a popular and vetted build. Question, should I oversize the stand in relation to the tank? Tank being 48x24x24, should I make the stand something like 60Lx26W(x36H)? Reason being it will give me more working room for the sump and all the gear to go with it.


Sump

- 40B....Petco $1/Gal, simple and done. Should be easy enough to add baffles, creating 3 sections |skimmer| refugium ||| return|.

- Skimmer - RO 150SSS

- Heater: CA Neotherm 150W (will likely add 2nd 150) or just buy 300?

- Return Pump: RO Varios-4 or VarioS-6? Thoughts? From what I understand, "rule of thumb" GPH should be ~10x tank size.

- RODI - BRS 6 stage since Richmond/Henrico treats their water with chloramines (according to the water report).


Lights

T5 Hybrid - 48" AquaticLife T5HO + (will later add LED)

OR

Photon V2 LED......still undecided, but leaning more towards the T5 Hybrid rather than straight LED..


Powerhead

Either RO Pulse or EcoTech MP40 (start with one add another once there is a need)


Well, I think that takes care of the "easy" part. I'm still not sure what will eventually be stocked and that will drive a lot of the little details, but what I want is diversity...like a real reef. Fish, LPS, softies, and some hardy SPS. For fish....obligatory clowns, maybe a tang (hopefully 120 is big enough but might be cutting it close). I REALLY want a dwarf lionfish (fu manchu, zebra, or fuzzy) but that just make it very hard on everything else.


Anyway, I think that's all I got for now. Please let me know your thoughts and feel free to make corrections and suggestions, be blunt if you need to. Basically, I don't know what I don't know, so at this point all information is good.


Thanks for looking!
 
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Mastiffsrule

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Welcome to the group. Sounds like you have a good plan so far. If you get a change stop by the meet and greet forum where you tall us the urchin story and maybe start a build thread once equipment starts rolling in

#WelcometoR2R
 

Hemmdog

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Welcome to reef2reef!
Go bigger on the sump.
The v2 LEDs inside the hybrid would be amazing!
VarioS 6 for sure. I got the 4 on my 90g and wish I had the 6. If you do the 6 plumb 1 inch returns imo.
Neotherms explode and have issues, I just had issues with mine a few months ago. For great temperature control you want a ranco industrial controller with temp probe. Then connect the ranco to heaters without their own temperature regulation, this limits potential things to break. I went with 2 titanium 300 watt finnex w/o temp controller heaters connected to my Ranco. My temp has never been more rock solid at 78 than it is now.
Go with 2 mp40’s for sure, you will add more flow later but starting with 2 would be perfect, 1 wouldn’t be enough and detritus would gather to one side.
That skimmer is great but I personally would go a little bigger.
 

Captain Quint

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Welcome aboard...Good solid advice already. :)

GC (since you're pricing there) can easily drill your tank and supply schedule 80 bulkheads at a reasonable price as well as a sump too.
 
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Biokabe

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I can tell you from my recent experiences... nothing wrong with making your stand longer than it needs to be (so 60" long is fine), but don't make it wider than it needs to be. Or at the least, if you do, make sure that there's a 'rail' of the stand to support the entire rim of the tank, front, back and sides. Check my build thread to find out what can happen if you don't. =)

As for the rest - 120g tank is fine, you will open up a few more options for fish (most tangs, geniacanthus angels, some triggers) if you can go up to a 180g (6' long) tank. That obviously adds more expense to the setup and there are plenty of gorgeous fish, so don't feel that you have to upsize if that size works best for you. I know I don't have a spot in my home where I could have a 6' tank without it having serious repercussions for overall usability of the house, so just something to consider.

I might go a bit bigger on the sump just to give yourself more filtration room, but a 40b should honestly get you plenty of space for what you're doing. Just remember to build a platform for whatever skimmer you end up with to put it in its optimal water height.

Definitely go for the hybrid lighting scheme, seems to offer the best of both worlds. Personally I'd get the LEDs first, as that will open up more coral options to begin with - the T5 bulbs in that fixture are there as a supplement, and you likely won't have enough light for more demanding corals to begin with. That does present the problem of mounting the LEDs temporarily until you get the hybrid fixture, so I can understand wanting to start with that first. For your LEDs, I'd recommend either 2x Hydra 26, 2x Radion XR15G4 Pros, or 2-3 Kessil A360WE or A360X. The Kessils tend to run a little underpowered, so I'd start with 2, see how your corals fare, and add a third later if necessary.

For the heater, whenever possible go with a pair of undersized heaters and stick them on a temp controller. No matter who makes them, heaters are the single most likely thing to fail. If your one heater can heat the tank by itself, then if it fails in the on position, your tank gets cooked. Basically, design your system so that at least 2-3 things need to fail before things turn disastrous.

For powerheads, follow the same rule of thumb, but for different reasons. Two underpowered pumps that add up to enough flow are better than one pump that takes care of everything by itself. For your powerhead, though, it's not because it's likely to fail... it's because more sources of flow increases the complexity of flow patterns you can offer, and corals like complex flow patterns.

Dwarf lion doesn't make things impossible, but they would require a few extra considerations that you wouldn't have with other fish. That said... they're pretty cool fish, I've always been tempted by a fu manchu. If you know that's something you want, you just need to make sure you tailor your tank (including eventual inhabitants) to its needs.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Phew, ya'll work quick!

Ok, the sump...how big should I go (this will dictate my stand construction) and why? Is there a ratio of tank to sump size? I'm afraid if I go too much bigger I'd have to crawl under the house and put in some joist supports/jacks.

@Hemmdog dang that's unfortunate about the Neotherms, I will look at alternatives. As for the powerheads, would I need two MP40s right from the start or could I add the 2nd later and just depend on one MP40 and both return jets for circulations? In the longer term, I'm looking at building my own controller using Reef-Pi as I have a bunch of Pi boards around collecting dust and it seems it can do a lot of what commercial controllers can do for a fraction of the price.

@Captain Quint Sounds good, I'll follow up with GC once I hear back from them; I would make a day trip and drive to them to pick up the tank, so some of the shipping money would go towards the cutting.

Consensus on 3/4 return vs. 1"?
 

Captain Quint

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Phew, ya'll work quick!

Ok, the sump...how big should I go (this will dictate my stand construction) and why? Is there a ratio of tank to sump size? I'm afraid if I go too much bigger I'd have to crawl under the house and put in some joist supports/jacks.

@Hemmdog dang that's unfortunate about the Neotherms, I will look at alternatives. As for the powerheads, would I need two MP40s right from the start or could I add the 2nd later and just depend on one MP40 and both return jets for circulations? In the longer term, I'm looking at building my own controller using Reef-Pi as I have a bunch of Pi boards around collecting dust and it seems it can do a lot of what commercial controllers can do for a fraction of the price.

@Captain Quint Sounds good, I'll follow up with GC once I hear back from them; I would make a day trip and drive to them to pick up the tank, so some of the shipping money would go towards the cutting.

Consensus on 3/4 return vs. 1"?
Sounds good brother...Diggin the avatar.
 

Hemmdog

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Phew, ya'll work quick!

Ok, the sump...how big should I go (this will dictate my stand construction) and why? Is there a ratio of tank to sump size? I'm afraid if I go too much bigger I'd have to crawl under the house and put in some joist supports/jacks.

@Hemmdog dang that's unfortunate about the Neotherms, I will look at alternatives. As for the powerheads, would I need two MP40s right from the start or could I add the 2nd later and just depend on one MP40 and both return jets for circulations? In the longer term, I'm looking at building my own controller using Reef-Pi as I have a bunch of Pi boards around collecting dust and it seems it can do a lot of what commercial controllers can do for a fraction of the price.

@Captain Quint Sounds good, I'll follow up with GC once I hear back from them; I would make a day trip and drive to them to pick up the tank, so some of the shipping money would go towards the cutting.

Consensus on 3/4 return vs. 1"?
For sumps the bigger the better, added stability and room for equipment which we all end up adding over time. I’d look at trigger systems website, their sumps are amazing. I have 2 from them. I’d go as big as you can fit under your tank.
Mp40’s you’d want to start with 2. You want your flow chaotic but fairly balanced, only having one will make weird stuff happen eventually since all the waste is also pushed to one side of the tank. Don’t think of your returns as added flow it’s more of a circulation system to your filtration. I’d plumb it all 1 inch. Locline reducers and splitters on the ends to make it 3/4 to give you more pressure and more directions, you can then add random flow generators to the ends of those to have varying flow coming out which is good.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Sounds good brother...Diggin the avatar.
Thanks! Took that pic while diving the Blue Hole in Belize last year. Not a ton of light down at 130'...visibility was pretty poor after a pretty nasty storm.

@Biokabe thanks for the heads up on the stand. Corrected plan for the stand would be ~60Lx24Dx36H, giving me internal measurements of ~57x21x27. As for a bigger tank, unfortunately it is not in the cards right now.

@Hemmdog Alright, 2 powerheads it is.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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So....I was doing some googling and came across multiple posts, many from these forums, regarding GlassCages QC. More specifically, how hit or miss it was. While I haven't committed to GC for my tank purchase, there were towards the top of the list because of the price; however, this may be a very good case for "you get what you pay for". Is GC riding on reputation built years ago or are these exceptions more so than the rule? Though judging only by the number of posts I've found, I would classify it as more than just the rule; then again negative voices are typically louder than praise.

My next choices are SC Aquariums Starfire 120, Planet Aquariums - Planet 48", Miracles Aquariums 125g Starfire. This would raise my costs significantly as the base price of most of these tanks is ~$250-300 more than GC, plus S&H (SCA shipping is free so that's a definite plus). Planet doesn't sell direct, but there seems to be a distributor not far from me, I'll be giving them a call tomorrow to see whats what.

What do you guys think?
 

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Welcome to R2R!! You'll get some great advice on this build! You're in the right place!
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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As I'm progressing on the build, I'm looking at some plumbing options and hoping you guys can help me out.

The wall by which the tank will be position, backs up to a half bath. What I would like to do, is run plumbing from the tank, through the wall and under the bathroom sink, connecting to the existing plumbing there (ie drain and cold line). What I want to accomplish with that is:

1. Have the tank connected directly to the sink drain so when it comes to water changes, i just open a valve and drain out X amount of water (no buckets!).
2. Ideally, RODI unit will be in the same room as the aquarium (in the aquarium stand). I would like to connect RODI through the wall, directly into the cold water line for intake and into the drain for waste. Preferably, I'd like to not make a bunch of connections to the drain, so I'd like to use 1 connection for both RODI waste and water change drain.

Here are some visuals, green tape square (almost mid point of the wall) marks the location of the sink cabinet of the bathroom on the other side (+/- 1"). The tank will be almost directly in front of it.
20190814_100947 2.jpg


This is what I got on the other side:
20190814_1005022.jpg


What are your guys' thoughts on how to best accomplish this?

Some rough ideas....assuming there is nothing in the wall that prevents me from going straight through, I figured cut a small access panel hole, or may even just a short conduit run from one side to the other, enough to fit 3 1/4" (may up to 3/8 or 1/2 for water-change drain) lines of soft tubing. 1 connected to the cold line for RODI intake, 1 for RODI waste and 1 for water change waste. Cold line should be easy as it would just T off of the cold water line. However, the drain, will be a bit more involved.

From the the looks of the existing drain piping, i don't have much room to tap into the PVC, as ideally you want to be a good bit above the P trap. Meaning, I'd be tapping into the metal pipe above the PVC. As I could like to only have 1 connection to the drain, I'd need to have either a T or Y connection so that I could connect the RODI and water change waste lines to it. I would also probably need either a check valve or a ball valve between the drain and and the water change line at least.

Then I also need to figure out where to connect the water change line on the aquarium side. Tap into the main plumbing under stand or just soft tubing to a small pump and into the sump?
 
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